SUCCESSOR: Final Fantasy VIII Remixed
Catalog Number: MCOL-0002
Released On: February 11 2016
Composed By: Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged By: Marc Papeghin, John Robert Matz, Jon Bash, Rich Douglas, Joanne Moo, Jordan Chin, James C. Hoffman, Catboss., Lauren Liebowitz, David Russell, Ashley Watts, Matthew S. Harrison, Tiago Rodrigues, Jack Menhorn, Ian Martyn, Michael Garrett Steele, Tom Miller, Ryan Ike, Magnus "Souleye" Pålsson, Stephen Froeber, Damian Nguyen, Brian Diamond, Ann Zeng, Matthew Chastney, Josh Barron, Kunal Majmudar, Jordan Aguirre, Ro Panuganti, Fredrik Häthén, Doug Perry, Annie Rosen, Calbert Warner, Melancholy Robot, Joshua Taipale, Elizabeth Zharoff, Adagio Quartet, Charles Ritz, Ryan Reilly, Masha Lepire, Shiro Hamaguchi, Jason Lux, Spencer Bambrick, Louie Aronowitz, John Weible, Tim Kuehlhorn, David Peacock, Rozen, Anne Strader, Super Piano Brothers, Emmanuel Lagumbay, Martino Vacca, Moisés Nieto, Emily McMillan, Cris Gale, Matt Beane, Brendan McLeod, Michael "Skitch" Schiciano, Fernando "Ferdk" Carabajal, Kirill Polyanskiy, Joshua Kaplan, Leslie-Anne Snipes, Sean Schafianski, Ben Cohn, Jeremy Harris Jones, Blake Westerby, When The Clock Strikes, Daniel Woodyer, Diwa de Leon, David Saulesco, Ruby Toung, Chad Schwartz, Robin J. Lindberg, Laura Intravia, Dale North, Ari'El Encarnacion, Jacob Pernell
Published By: Materia Collective
Recorded at: Unknown
Format: 6-Disc Digital Download
Buy this album from iTunes

Disc One
01 - Liberi Fatali 2016
02 - A Ruthless Truth
03 - Never Look Back
05 - Dance with the Balamb-fish
06 - Blue Fields
07 - Trust Me
08 - Waltz for the Moon (Pass the Chips Remix)
09 - Ride On
10 - DeadEnd!
11 - Maybe I'm a Lion
12 - CASTLE: A Rock Opera
13 - Slightly Darker Black Widow (Never Look Back)
14 - Starting Up
Total Time:

Disc Two
01 - Fear
02 - Mean Ol' Griever
03 - Slide Show, Part Deux
04 - Esthar Twilight
05 - Get Down, Galbadian
06 - Odeka De Luxe Chipocobo
07 - Breezy
08 - A Sacrifice
09 - Dance With The Balamb Fish
10 - Doo-wop de Chocobo
11 - Blue Fields
12 - Drifting
13 - Chrysalis
14 - Maybe I'm a Lion
15 - Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec
16 - The (Not So) Compressed Jam
Total Time:

Disc Three
01 - The Salt Flats
02 - And...
03 - Roses and Wine
04 - The Landing
05 - Jailed
06 - The Warm Winds of Balamb
07 - Rival Dicks
08 - Blue Sky
09 - Waltz for the moon de Baroque
10 - The Only Thing We Have To...
11 - The Celestial Oath
12 - Timber Owls
13 - The Successor
14 - Find Your Way
15 - Ami
16 - Skeyes On Me
Total Time:

Disc Four
01 - SeeDs of War
02 - Overture
03 - Premonition
04 - Fated Children
05 - Junction (Celestial Malfunction Mix)
06 - Dicis Mea
07 - Elevator de Chocobo
08 - Balamb Garden
09 - Waltz for the Moon
10 - The Castle
11 - Fisherman's Horizon
12 - Julia
13 - Videri Fatali
14 - Maybe I'm A Lion
15 - Time Stands Still
Total Time:

Disc Five
01 - The Mission
02 - Galbadia Replicant
03 - The Man with the A Capella Group
04 - Critical Hit
05 - Don't Be Afraid
06 - Garden Rock Anthem (Movin')
07 - Love Grows (Eyes on Me)
08 - Find Your Way (for Chamber Orchestra)
09 - Ruhelos (Unrest)
10 - Little Victory
11 - Tears of the Moon
12 - Triple Threat
13 - The Intruders
14 - Under Her Vocal Control
15 - Primeval (Compression of Time)
Total Time:

Disc Six
01 - Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec
02 - Retaliation
03 - The Extreme
04 - The Loser
05 - Galbadia, My Home
06 - My Mind On You
07 - The Highest Supreme
08 - Eyes on Me (Power Ballad)
09 - Light Up the Whole Sky Like Fire
10 - Valse for the Moon
11 - Final Fantasy VIII – Ending Theme
12 - My Fantasies
13 - Balamb Garden
14 - The Oath
15 - You'll Find Me
16 - Eyes on Me
Total Time:

SUCCESSOR: Final Fantasy VIII Remixed is an enormous album, crafted lovingly by Materia Collective and its staggering number of contributors. Released to celebrate the 17th anniversary of Final Fantasy VIII, it features 91 songs, 5 hours and 49 minutes of playtime, and over 150 top-notch composers, arrangers, and performers. Everyone from Lauren the Flute to Dale North to Triforce Quartet has a part on this piece of lyrical fanwork, and their love and dedication are on full display.

Final Fantasy VIII features — in my mind — some of the best compositions the franchise has ever seen. Whatever feelings one may have about the game, it's hard to dismiss that the soundtrack is compelling and vibrant. It's a huge legacy to live up to, and SUCCESSOR is aptly named. Sprawling, varied, and distinctive, it sweeps from a capella comedic takes to multi-piece orchestral rearrangements and beyond.

It's difficult to begin with this album. It features multiple, divergent takes on just about every song from the original soundtrack, both classical and modern, with techno-infused dance tracks and brass march variations. "Blue Fields" gets two, "Waltz for the Moon" gets three, "Maybe I'm a Lion" gets three, and so on.

The most striking piece is the one the album opens with: "Liberi Fatali 2016." It features no less than 29 contributors, including The ETHEReal String Orchestra, which counts for two, and producers Marc Papeghin and Matthew K. Mukerjee, who did the lion's share of pulling the piece together. The song is an immediate departure from the original, opening with an urgent, racing pulse in place of the traditional calm build. Gone is the sweeping choral ballad in favour of a far more aggressive tone, hugely realized through the frenetic guitar of Rich Bichler, that breathes new life into the song. It has a dizzying array of voices and instruments at work, from Coda and Moonliet, to Andrew Stern and Sebastian Freij, all putting forth their best foot in this incredible performance.

It's just 4 minutes and 50 seconds long — like the original — but it's pure, condensed talent. The fact that so many voices collaborated on such a singular and iconic work within a fan community is a testament to each and every one of them as professionals, and to the producers in their capacity as organizers. If there's one flaw to the piece, it's that the final mix has the instruments a bit too high for the vocals, but that's barely a complaint. In all, it's a grandiose and inspiring start to a great album.

From here, exploration abounds. The minimalist production of "Ride On" by Lauren the Flute is an incredible joy. Clean, uplifting, and stirring, it inherits the spirit of the original and transforms it into something far more heartfelt. Given that I find the original "Ride On" a rare annoying note from the soundtrack, this is a welcome change. Joshua Taipale's "The Warm Winds of Balamb" is easy listening, dreamful and restorative. The piano alone elevates the song and makes it something I listen to regularly now, rather than just a BGM piece. Calbert Warner's "Roses and Wine" is an uptempo, lively take on the melancholy, moderato original; it's almost the sort of song you'd hear playing on the title screen of a sentimental dating sim like CLANNAD or Kanon. And then there's "The Man with the A Capella Group," Doug Perry's take on the quick-moving fan favourite. I laughed out loud at this one; it's so incredibly unexpected and charming. This piece is thoroughly enjoyable, though possibly offensive to the sensibilities of a purist — and all the more endearing for it.

Of course, I can't miss mentioning the album's varying takes of "Eyes On Me." This was one of the first pieces of VGM I ever learned to sing by heart. I have friends who've played it at their weddings, school dances, and birthday parties. It's not only one of the game's most loved pieces, but perhaps one of the most memorable tracks the franchise has ever produced. On SUCCESSOR, it's rendered four different ways, including in hilarious, peppy rock form by Louie Aronowitz — closer to something from Blink 182 than anything past the pen of Uematsu. It's off-kilter and inventive, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then, more traditionally, there's one with a male vocal by Dale North. North may not have the incredible range of Faye Wong, but his rendition is rich and warm, heartfelt and endearing. His voice has an organic, lilting charm that lends itself well to the forlorn ballad.

Other favourites include "Dance with the Balamb-Fish" by Joanne Moo, and Martino Vacca's rendition of "Balamb Garden." The former is between a chamber piece and a music box; it brings an almost Edwardian sensibility to the piece and casts it in an all new light. The latter, meanwhile, follows closely to the original, but with higher, sharper strings and some new horn work that accents the already delightful melody. That's not even mentioning the haunting "Time Stands Still" from Lauren the Flute, the jazzy "Critical Hit" from Michael “Skitch” Schiciano, or Triforce Quartet’s "Final Fantasy VIII — Ending Theme." Each is a gem in its own right and sits in exceptional company.

This is a definitive fanwork for the franchise. Musically, it lacks — even defies genre, and that's the point. It's exemplary of what "remix" means in philosophical terms: redefining a work through the eyes of those who come after — successors, if you will. The album is aptly named, tremendous in scope, and executed with precision despite its diversity.

If you’re not familiar with Materia Collective, it’s time you were. They’ve done amazing work, including collaborating with Toby Fox to release the Undertale Soundtrack, MATERIA: Final Fantasy VII Remixed (SUCCESSOR’s forerunner), and Enraptured, a tribute album for BioShock fans. Their catalogue doesn’t sprawl endlessly like some outlets, but everything they produce is top-quality listening.

SUCCESSOR is an unmitigated success. You would never know this was a fanwork save for its incredible variety of interpretation. The album is highly recommended for inclusion in any music lover’s library, and doubly so for fans of Final Fantasy.

Reviewed by: Mark P. Tjan


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